The Christian message was first preached approximately 2000 years ago and it hasn't changed since then. However there are so many so-called Christian institutions and traditions that it is now difficult to discover what the message actually is. This short article provides the basic elements.
The word “gospel” is a Greek word that means nothing more than “good news” and good news is what you should expect to be hearing when you learn about the Christian message. Before we can understand or appreciate the good news we need to first be clear about a few other things.
First, your existence is not going to end when your body dies. The spirit of a person outlives the body and death is merely a doorway through which your spirit will pass. A butterfly, a pupae and a caterpiller are all stages of the same creature and in a similar way our life on earth is just a stage that we pass through on our way to somewhere else.
Second, the world was created by a God and we are designed to find maximum pleasure and satisfaction through a close relationship with God. For as long as we live on earth we can get along quite nicely just by making use of the other things that God created such as sunshine, water and food but our ultimate joy depends on knowing God personally and being at peace with him.
However, third, as mentioned above we are not going to live on earth forever; one day, like caterpillars, we must be transformed and move on to the next stage. In that next stage we will not be living on earth as we do now but we will be moving into a different kind of relationship with God and with the universe. The caterpillar and the subsequent butterfly are the same creature and live on the same planet but their experiences of life are utterly different. So it will be for us. Mortal death, as we call it, will cause us to experience the universe and God quite differently to the way we experience them today.
Fourth, and very importantly, the perfect state of life that we are designed for can only be kept perfect by ensuring that everything and everyone imperfect is kept out of it. This is the first hint of some bad news because we, sadly, are not perfect people. As imperfect people we cannot enter a world of peace and joy without immediately spoiling it by our presence and consequently we have a problem: For all the perfect people death will be their entrance into a wonderful state of peace and joy, but for all the imperfect people (apparently all of us) death will be the means by which they are separated from all that is good and pleasant.
We are made to be with God and with all that is pleasant and beautiful and yet our character defects will prevent us from ever reaching that place. This is (1) a very big problem and (2) where the “good news” comes in!
The good news is that God chose to solve our problem of separation by coming to see us. No man could every become like God and reach up into heaven so God became like a man and stepped down onto earth. Having come to earth as a man God was then able to experience life like a man and pass through death like a man. When God passed through death he was able to bring it within his realm and thus it no longer needs to be a godless place that man must fear.